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May 31 2014

Longest Migration Among African Mammals Discovered


A population of zebras surprised biologists by making a more than 300-mile beeline across parts of Namibia and Botswana—the longest big-mammal migration ever documented in Africa.

In the wilds of Africa, food and water come and go with the seasons, and animals follow.

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May 31 2014

A Little Bird Either Learns Its Name Or Dies


I've been wondering lately, do animals invent names? As in names for themselves? Names for each other? I've always thought that what we do when we call ourselves "Ralph" or "Laura" is unique, something exclusively human. But it turns out that's wrong. Other animals have name-like calls that they use much like we do.

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May 31 2014

Dolphins Guide Scientists to Rescue Suicidal Girl


One day, my research team and I were following a school of bottlenose dolphins near shore as we do on a regular basis in the waters off Los Angeles, California. We just wrapped up our photo-identification work and were moving on to take video of dolphin social interactions and enter data on behavior.

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May 30 2014

'Free choice' in primates altered through brain stimulation


When electrical pulses are applied to the ventral tegmental area of their brain, macaques presented with two images change their preference from one image to the other. The study is the first to confirm a causal link between activity in the ventral tegmental area and choice behavior in primates.

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May 30 2014

Neolithic Near East wetter and more fertile than today


A new study describes the characteristics of agriculture at its beginnings by comparing kernel and wood samples from ancient Near East sites, with present day samples. It is the first time that direct evidence is able to reveal humidity and fertility conditions of crops, as well as the process of cereal domestication developed from the Neolithic (12,000 years ago) to early Roman times (around 2,000 years ago).

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May 30 2014

Antarctic Ice Sheet unstable at end of last ice age, new study finds


A new study has found that the Antarctic Ice Sheet began melting about 5,000 years earlier than previously thought coming out of the last ice age – and that shrinkage of the vast ice sheet accelerated during eight distinct episodes, causing rapid sea level rise.

The international study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, is particularly important coming on the heels of recent studies that suggest destabilization of part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun.

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May 30 2014

Ancient 'Fish Lizard' Graveyard Discovered Beneath Melting Glacier


Dozens of nearly complete skeletons of prehistoric marine reptiles have been uncovered near a melting glacier in southern Chile.

Scientists found 46 specimens from four different species of extinct ichthyosaurs. These creatures, whose Greek name means "fish lizards," were a group of large, fast-swimming marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, about 245 million to 90 million years ago.

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May 30 2014

Huge Tooth Proves Jurassic Seas Were Crazy Dangerous


A fossilized tooth dredged from the bottom of the English Channel near Dorset, England, belonged to a formidable Jurassic marine predator and is the largest known tooth of its kind found in the U.K., according to a new study.

The 2.36-inch-long tooth has a broken tip, and would have been even bigger when new, suggests the paper, published in the journal Historical Biology.

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May 30 2014

Dog domestication may explain European mammoth kill sites


A new analysis of European archaeological sites containing large numbers of dead mammoths and dwellings built with mammoth bones has led Penn State Professor Emerita Pat Shipman to formulate a new interpretation of how these sites were formed.

She suggests that their abrupt appearance may have been due to early modern humans working with the earliest domestic dogs to kill the now-extinct mammoth. Shipman’s analysis also provides a way to test the predictions of her new hypothesis. Advance publication of her article “How do you kill 86 mammoths?” is available online through Quaternary International.

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May 30 2014

Butterfly 'eyespots' add detail to the story of evolution


A new study of the colorful "eyespots" on the wings of some butterfly species is helping to address fundamental questions about evolution that are conceptually similar to the quandary Aristotle wrestled with about 330 B.C. – "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

After consideration, Aristotle decided that both the egg and the chicken had always existed. That was not the right answer. The new Oregon State University research is providing a little more detail.

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May 30 2014

Did Charles Darwin 'borrow' the theory of natural selection?


When Charles Darwin published ‘On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection’ in 1859 one Scottish fruit farmer was, understandably, rather put out.

Decades before, Patrick Matthew had written a book in which he described ‘the natural process of selection’ explaining how ‘a law universal in nature’ ensured the survival of the fittest.

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May 30 2014

Human muscles may have evolved more than brain


In school, we learned that our brains make humans a unique species. But a new study shows that human muscle may have evolved even more than the brain.

Researchers found that the metabolome (products of metabolism such as sugars, vitamins, amino acids and neurotransmitters) of the human brain has evolved four times faster than the chimpanzee brain. Intending to use muscle as a control.

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May 30 2014

Caring for a baby changes a man's brain, study shows


Parenting a small child requires the forethought of a crisis planner, the reflexes of a professional goalkeeper, the energy of a cheerleader and the empathy of a therapist.

After eons of practice at such caregiving, it's clear that mothers have evolved some brawn in those parts of the brain that weave together these many skills, and that practice strengthens them. But fathers can clearly develop the same cognitive and emotional muscle, and a new study finds that the more he cares for his offspring, the more a father's brain looks and behaves like that of a mother engaged in the everyday care of a child.

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May 30 2014

Cynical? You may be hurting your brain health


People with high levels of cynical distrust may be more likely to develop dementia, according to a new study. Cynical distrust, which is defined as the belief that others are mainly motivated by selfish concerns, has been associated with other health problems, such as heart disease. This is the first study to look at the relationship between cynicism and dementia.

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May 30 2014

Skype shown automatically translating multilingual voice calls


Microsoft's Skype will eventually be able to translate voice calls between people. In an on-stage demo at the Code conference today, Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella showed off Skype Translator, an upcoming version of the service that is capable of translating voice conversation in "near real-time".

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May 30 2014

Wireless broadband can reach the moon, and maybe Mars


Aside from air, water and fresh vegetables, what would need to survive on the moon? One thing that would likely of feature high on the list is a decent, reliable wireless internet. And thanks to a group of researches from MIT and Nasa this kind of connectivity could be within the realms of possibility.

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May 30 2014

This Company Uses Earth's Magnetic Field To See Inside Buildings


In some ways, it's an ominous pitch. By measuring the "magnetic fingerprint" of any building in the world, the Finnish company IndoorAtlas can conjure up a startlingly precise indoor map of any building. It's technology that sci-fi has dreamt of for decades. But instead of surveillance, it's being used for shopping.

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